The Toxic Truth About Toothpaste and Mouthwash Ingredients

9 min read

The Toxic Truth About Toothpaste and Mouthwash Ingredients

Brushing your teeth and rinsing with mouthwash may seem like the most innocuous of activities - after all, they’re part of everyone’s daily routine and fundamental to personal hygiene. Traditionally, the oral care market has been dominated by the familiar big brands, and it’s simply assumed that their products are safe, effective, and healthy for the body. What you’re about to learn will flip everything you thought you knew about toothpaste and mouthwash upside-down. 

Now ask yourself, when is the last time you researched the ingredients in your toothpaste and mouthwash? Because there’s a good chance that the products you use everyday to clean your teeth and freshen your breath may be causing great harm to your health. Fortunately, there is now an alternative line of oral care products that is safe and effective for everyday cleaning, whitening, and freshening - more about that in a bit. First, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common ingredients, many of which are known to be toxic and carcinogenic, found in top selling oral care products that stock shelves in stores across the country.

Nasty Stuff in Your Toothpaste:

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a foaming agent (also used in car washes), known to cause irritation and dry out mucous membranes, and has been shown to increase the likelihood of developing canker sores and cold sores (study) in individuals prone to recurrent aphthous ulcers (study). In some cases it can create a slothing, or ‘peeling off’ of the gums. While some people are allergic to SLS, it’s actually toxic to human cells and really should be avoided whenever possible.

Triclosan is the most ubiquitous antibacterial agent used in household products today. It’s also a primary ingredient found in the only FDA approved toothpaste on the market. We’ve argued for years that Triclosan is not beneficial to oral health, and now the FDA has confirmed that Triclosan is in fact ineffective (article) as an antibacterial agent. In a proposed 2013 ruling the agency stated that Triclosan “could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects”. In other research, Triclosan has been shown to be harmful to human health (study) and to the environment (study).

Flouride as an additive to the water supply and as an anticavity ingredient in oral care products has been under increasing scrutiny. Many clinicians share a concern that fluoride may upset the iodine balance in the body leading to widespread symptoms of low thyroid function such as fatigue, weight gain, cold hands and feet, dry skin, irregular bowel function and brain fog (study). The concern stems from the fact that fluoride comes from the same family of elements as iodine, the essential component to thyroid hormone. Fluoride toothpaste should not be swallowed and therefore not used by toddlers or anyone cannot sufficiently spit all of the toothpaste out. There are cases of acute fluoride poisoning from water systems (study), including side effects up to death (study).

Glycerin is a humectant (reduces the loss of moisture) that gives toothpaste it’s texture. It’s petroleum-based and leaves a film on the teeth that prevents you from having that nice, squeaky clean feel after brushing.

Hydrogen Peroxide is an oxidizer, bleaching agent, and disinfectant found in most popular whitening toothpastes. While it does whiten teeth, it also oxidizes your tooth enamel (study) and may irritate soft tissues in the mouth (oral mucosa), particularly the gums. Hydrogen peroxide goes into dentinal tubules and cleans out the minerals (study), weakening the tooth, and often leading to painful sensitivity.

Baking Soda works as an mechanical cleanser on the teeth and gums. While it is effective at removing stains, over time baking soda can significantly weaken your teeth. One study found that baking soda disrupted proteins in the saliva necessary to maintain strong, healthy teeth. According to Colgate, “excessive use of baking soda can have the reverse effect of cleaning, breaking down your enamel over time and causing sensitivity in your teeth.”

Alcohol is used by major oral care brands because it is an inexpensive way to to give you that tingling / burning sensation that implies something good may be happening in your mouth. But actually alcohol is a powerful antibacterial agent that destroys the good bacteria in your mouth (95%) along with the bad (5%). Alcohol is a drying agent that can lead to ‘dry mouth’, a painful and uncomfortable condition that can be transient or persistent. It’s also a known carcinogen (cancer-causing) and in this study was shown to “contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer”. The American Dental Association (ADA) actually recommends avoiding mouthwashes that contain alcohol (article).

Artificial Dyes found in virtually all mouthwashes can actually stain your teeth over time, diminishing the whiteness of your smile. Commonly used dyes like FD&C Green No. 3, D&C Yellow No. 10, and FD&C Blue No. 1 have been shown to be cytotoxic (toxic to living cells). Imagine putting paint in your mouth! Artificial dyes create an unnecessary burden for your liver, where they are processed.

Artificial Preservatives like sodium benzoate, methyl paraben, and ethyl paraben are used to extend the shelf life of many top selling brand name mouthwashes, and have been shown to be cytotoxic (study) and carcinogenic (study).

So why do major oral care brands continue to allow the widespread use of these ingredients when there is overwhelming research to support the case against them? The primary driver seems to be financial. Ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, alcohol, and the various dyes and preservatives produce a desired effect and are inexpensive to formulate.

Unfortunately for consumers, it can take many years before side effects from ingredients in these products fully manifest, making it virtually impossible to connect the symptom with the cause. It is the accumulative effects of toxic ingredients that is of concern because over time the liver can become overworked and stop doing its job, leading to unnecessary health complications (study).

The good news is that there is an alternative to all this so you can stop subjecting your body to toxins and stop destroying your enamel. A new line of oral care products developed by internationally recognized Beverly Hills cosmetic dentist Dr. Kourosh Maddahi (a regular on the CBS network show ‘The Doctors’) is now available!

Oral Essentials is the first line of products in the USA to be certified “non-toxic”. Meaning, you won’t find any cytotoxins, neurotoxins, or carcinogens on the ingredient list. In fact, there’s nothing in Oral Essentials that you can’t pronounce or immediately identify. The products contain naturally derived ingredients and they’re safe and effective for everyday use. Best of all, they really work to clean and whiten your teeth, freshen your breath, and can improve your overall oral health!

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